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GNOC - New Faces, New Challenges

Jun 12, 2009, 7:16 AM | Article By: Charles Sarr Thomas

The GNOC Congress last Saturday 6th June, brought a lot of new faces into our national Olympic Committee. But although new to the NOC they all are however not new to sports. In fact all of them, without exception, have been active and instrumental in the good performance of their respective associations. The full line-up is as follows: President is Lang Tombong Tamba of GFA, 1st Vice President is Beatrice Allen IOC member and Softball Association, 2nd vice President is Mam Essa Gaye of Basketball, Secretary General is Omar Njie-Barro, Treasurer is Ousman Wadda of the GFA, the three Bureau members are Sheriff Jammeh of Gambia Lawn Tennis Association, Abdou Shyllon of Wrestling Association and Musa Cassa Taal of the Gambia Volleyball Association. The nominated members are Mary Samba Christensen, Amira Jagne and Mass Axi Gye. With the exception of Beatrice Allen who held the same position of Vice in the outgoing Executive, all the other elected members are new faces. Not new to sports in this country, it is hoped that like new brooms they will deliver with a special vibrancy and efficacy.

One criticism is that the Bureau leaves a little bit to be fully balanced. It is a little unfortunate that Congress did not seize the opportunity to elect more than only one woman (Ms. Beatrice Allen) when they were in a position to do so. There should have been a growth in the female membership, in line with projections and anticipation of 'Women in Sports' world organisations, the IOC, and our own National Sports Policy, and indeed of the GNOC itself. We should have been achieving higher women representation by now. But it is the same status quo as the past 10 years; producing zero growth. There was a good opportunity to field for example, Ndey Busso of the Gambia Table Tennis Association. If elected, Miss Busso would in my view have been an effective Bureau member. She belongs to an Olympic sport where she is a dynamic Secretary-General, an active organiser, and an eloquent spokesperson. In fact at the Congress she was one of the first speakers who addressed budgetary as well as administrative issues, with commendable reasoning and eloquence. She is also a youth, and certainly in this day and age the youths should, as a matter of policy and prudence, be incorporated in all national endeavours so that they can gain experience and be nurtured while also in a position to raise issues and concerns of the youths. Unfortunately when it was time to fill in even the ordinary Bureau members, she was forgotten. Hopes are that the omission was inadvertence which can be pardoned, and not a sign of male chauvinism or self-centredness which is inexcusable. There were other young women present as well, who could have been considered.

Of course before some delegates could make that type of nomination, Congress had already come down to some kind of fast-track random selection, almost over-ruling the chairman/ returning officers to quickly close nominations. I think that because of this unfortunate situation we should all in future calm down and reason out the selection process. We should even have the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure proper election procedures and conduct.

 Because of this, I am appealing to the incumbent President, Major General Tamba and his Bureau, to consider the women and appoint one or two to the Technical committees.

We appreciate the nominations of Mrs Christensen and Mrs Jagne, but these are merely mandatory nominations, to form only the bottom line. We need freely elected female members to boost female representation in sports at all levels. This has become compelling not only on account of the ratio targets set by international and world sporting organizations and also our local sports authorities, but also for the overwhelming fact that women are now greatly involved in football, athletics, tennis, table tennis, and even martial arts like karate. They should therefore have corresponding higher representation at top administrative levels.

Regarding the challenges, the new Bureau is already aware that they have a tough act to follow. People's expectations are that they should register the same, if not higher, achievements than the out-going bureau. This is not too easy given the clear manifestations of success left behind  in the area of infrastructure development, training, national sports development, international acclamation, that have all helped make Gambia a model for the IOC and other NOCs of the world. The new Bureau will need to make an impact in the highly competitive international sports fora and arenas if Gambia is to gain benefits from those organizations. Steps should be taken almost immediately to prepare athletes for forthcoming world events such as Commonwealth Games, Olympics, and All Africa Games. As the minister of Sports keeps saying, we are in pursuit of excellence, not just going out but also bringing back the medals and the trophies. The whole country is similarly in that frame of mind given the recent bright successes of the Darling Scorpions. The point made by the outgoing President, Abu Dandeh Njie, is worthy of note: "My report will on this occasion dwell on the development and achievements of GNOC to justify an enviable and sustainable LEGACY."  He outlined numerous outstanding achievements that were strongly acknowledged by all present, by way of readily and unanimously adopting the 'President's Report'.

And what the minister said at the Congress was:

"We look forward to working in partnership to achieve excellence in sports across all disciplines and in a decentralized manner." This is a challenge which the Honourable Minster has thrown on behalf of the whole nation.

I therefore want to conclude by wishing the new Bureau, unity of purpose and success in their tenure of office.